HISTORY: Toro Rosso were once Minardi, a proud Italian team of underachievers who were forever employing Pierluigi Martini throughout the eighties and early nineties. Financial strife rocked the outfit, who came under Australian ownership and were subsidised by Bernie Eccleston to keep an increasingly threadbare grid stocked up.
Red Bull, who had previously bought Jaguar to launch their own team, bought Minardi with the intention of running new drivers in existing year-old cars as a sort of farm system. Part of that idea didn't work - chassis transfer remains against the rules - but the other part certainly did, with Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo making an initial impact here (including a win for Seb) before moving on to the parent team.
Kind of a vulture-nosed affair, painted in the usual corporate colours and therefore bound to confuse Brundle again when Vettel comes up to lap them. Or will it be the other way round this year?
ENGINE: Renault, in a potentially disastrous switch from Ferrari last season. This does however bring them in line with Red Bull, so maybe they got a two for one deal. Every little helps!
25. Jean-Eric VERGNE (FRA) - Last year: 15th (13 points, best finish: 6th, Canada)
26. Daniil KVYAT (RUS) - Last year: GP3 (Champion, 168 points, 3 wins - Belgium, Italy and Abu Dhabi feature races). Also, for some reason, Formula 3, but ineligible for points due to late registration; no, we're not making this up (1 win - Netherlands)
Poor Jean-Eric. On points alone he was ahead of Ricciardo for a large portion of last year, but the Aussie still got the nod to go up to head office; you have to wonder if his motivation has been thrown off by that. Still, at least he's seen the potential for promotion is there, and if relations sour with Vettel after a bad season or two he's doubtlessly still in the frame.
Kvyat is clearly a very fast young man, and his results last year speak for themselves, but Engine Blood always worries about the increasingly fresh faces making their way to Formula One in the last few years. It's all good fun until someone makes an elementary mistake and someone gets injured; it does seem like they're risking some flak if something goes wrong, but since for once this appears to be a triumph of talent over sponsorship bucks, we hope this appointment works out just fine.
LAST YEAR: 8th (33 points)
Daniel RICCIARDO (AUS) - 14th (20 points, best finish: 7th, China and Italy)
Another woefully inconsistent season for Toro Rosso, and though they did manage to get well ahead of the disastrous Williams campaign, they never threatened to challenge Sauber and Force India ahead of them. They solely exist to develop talented drivers that may at some stage serve the main team; thus is their niche, and ever has it been so, though the advantage there is that conventional success and improvement isn't necessarily their raison d'être.
PROSPECTS: Always hard to tell; they're usually either initially good and rubbish later, or initially rubbish and good later. So one of those, then.